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Cataract Surgery Co-Management

Cataracts is a disease of the eye that results in the clouding of the lens of the eyeball.

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Cataracts prevent clear images from appearing on the eye’s retina; causing mild, moderate, even severe blurred vision.

Typically an eye disorder associated with aging (over half of the people in America over age 80 have either had a cataract or cataract surgery), cataracts generally occur later in life as the lens structure within the human eye changes and gets older.

During the evaluation of your eye health, we will carefully examine your lens for signs of cataract formation. If a cataract is noticed and the clouding is causing visual disruption, the optometrist will refer you to a trusted and respected surgeon for surgery, which is the only known cure for cataracts. Our Eye Care Practice will be there for you providing pre and post cataract surgery care.

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Symptoms of Cataracts

Maybe you have noticed your vision getting a little blurry? Sort of like looking through a smudged piece of glass or a cloudy lens? Have you noticed that when driving at night, the oncoming headlights seem bright or glaring? Do colors not appear as bright as they used to?

These are all symptoms of cataracts. There are different types of cataract and the type of cataract you have will affect the symptoms you experience.

Different Types of Cataracts

There is a type of cataract called a nuclear cataract that can actually bring about a temporary improvement in your near vision called ‘second sight’. Unfortunately, this effect doesn’t last long and will disappear as the cataract gets worse.

Another type of cataract is called a subcapsular cataract. A subcapsular cataract may produce no symptoms at all until it is nearly fully developed.

Cataracts can cause permanent damage to your eyes if they go untreated. The important thing is, that if you think you may have a cataract, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible and find out if you do.

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Cataracts Treatment

Treatment for cataracts involves surgery, but being diagnosed with a cataract does not mean that you need to have surgery immediately, or maybe ever. You may be able to live with symptoms of early cataracts for a while by using vision aids such as glasses, anti-glare sunglasses, magnification lenses, strong bifocals or brighter lighting to suit your needs.

Surgery should be considered when the condition begins to seriously impair your vision to the extent that it affects your daily life such as reading or driving, playing golf, playing cards, watching TV, etc. Sometimes surgery is also necessary if the cataracts are preventing treatment of another eye problem.

The good news is that cataract surgery is typically very successful in restoring your vision. Together with your eye doctor, you will decide if and when the time for surgery has arrived.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is one of most common surgeries performed in North America and has a 90% success rate (meaning the patient has improved vision, between 20/20 and 20/40 vision, following the procedure).

Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called "crystalline lens") that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Metabolic changes of the crystalline lens fibers over time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision.

The surgery involves removing the clouded natural lens and usually replacing it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL) that becomes a permanent part of the eye. It is a relatively quick and painless procedure and you will not feel or see the IOL after the implant.

Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens implant is inserted (eye surgeons say that the lens is "implanted"). Cataract surgery is generally performed by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia (either topical, peribulbar or retrobulbar), usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient.

Day care, high volume, minimally invasive, small incision phacoemulsification with quick post-op recovery has become the standard of care in cataract surgery all over the world.

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Preventing Cataracts

While development of cataracts is largely associated with age, there are other factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition. By knowing these risk factors, there are steps you can take to delay or prevent the development of cataracts:

  • Sun Protection: Ultraviolet radiation can be a factor in the development of cataracts. It is recommended to protect your eyes from ultraviolet sunlight by wearing 100% UV protective sunglasses and a hat with a brim when you are exposed to the sun.
  • Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake: These habits have been shown to increase the chances of developing cataracts, so if you smoke or regularly consume large amounts of alcohol – stop these habits.
  • Proper Nutrition: Research shows that maintaining good health and nutrition can also reduce the risk of age-related cataracts, particularly by eating foods rich with vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E and other antioxidants found in green leafy vegetables, fruit and a diet rich in Omega-3s.
  • Regular Eye Exams: Once you reach the age of 50, or if you have diabetes or other eye conditions, it is important to have a comprehensive eye exam every year to check for signs of cataracts and other age-related eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. Early detection and treatment for many of these eye and vision disorders is often essential to save your vision.
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    Dear Northwood Vision patient,

    COVID-19 has the potential to cause grave harm to many of the citizens in our population. According to Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Mark Lipsitch it is likely that at least between 40-70 % of the population will become infected with COVID-19. This virus is twice as contagious as the flu. About 80 percent will not have severe concerns, but based on the current data, 20% of the infected will become severe or critical, needing some form of hospital care to do well. Currently, about 30 % of those who become classified as severe based on WHO classification, will not survive. These are the unfortunate realities at the moment.

    Meanwhile, at Northwood Vision, we want to do as much as possible to minimize this risk, to prevent mortality and long term side effects, while doing our best to provide the services our patients need. We are convinced you care about these same things. (Read more)

    Here is what we are asking you to do to make a smaller exposure footprint:

    1. If you have any symptoms of a cold or flu (coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, running nose, etc), please reschedule your appointment for at least one month from now.
    2. Try not to touch any surfaces in the office you do not have to touch.
    3. If you are trying on glasses, DO NOT put the frames back on the shelf. Rather, we will collect them from you for proper cleaning before they are returned to the shelves.
    4. If you are ordering contact lenses, a year supply (and some 6 month supplies) order can be direct shipped to your home at no cost. Please take advantage of this so you don’t have to come into the office more than necessary.
    5. If you do need to come into the office for an adjustment, please call the office at 727-725-5558 when you arrive in your vehicle. We will let you know if there is a wait and will put you on a list so we can call or text you to come therefore minimizing the time you are in the enclosed space of our office.
    6. Please come to your appointment with the least number of people possible to reduce exposure to them and to others at the office.
    7. If you have any loved ones that have been exposed to the virus or certainly if they have symptoms of a respiratory illness, please wear a mask in case you are an asymptomatic carrier, or if possible, wait at least 4 weeks before coming in for non-essential care.

    In an effort to protect you, here is what we are doing to help lower your risk:

    1. All surfaces in the office will be cleaned several times per day with antiviral/antibacterial cleaner. Surfaces in the exam room will be cleaned thoroughly in between each patient.
    2. No sick or symptomatic staff will be permitted to work while sick with a known viral respiratory infection or symptoms, or while directly caring for a sick relative/friend.
    3. For your safety, payments can be done ahead of time over the phone if you call ahead. This will decrease the amount of time you are in the store and your exposure risk in our enclosed space.
    4. No glasses frames other patients try on will be put back on display until the frames are cleaned with an antiviral cleanser.
    5. We are actively asking patients to reschedule for 4 weeks later if they have any symptoms themselves or in their family/ social network.
    6. We are giving options for patients to acquire goods by mail rather than coming into the store.
    7. We altering our schedule to decrease the number of patients that might be in the office at the same time to maximize social distancing.
    8. We are practicing frequent hand washing at our office to protect you and each other.
    9. We will ask patients to reschedule if they present to our clinic with a cough or other COVID-19 symptoms.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding during this stressful and trying time. Let us all work together to lower risk of the spread so that less people die and less people have permanent side effects from COVID-19. Each of us can do our part. May God bless each of you and keep you well. Thank you for your understanding and care for your fellow humans.

    Dr. Christopher K. Keats, OD